Are Your Investments Working As Hard As You Are?

How do you want your portfolio to work? If the first words that come to mind are “More, harder, faster!” then you may need a portfolio review.

Let me tell you about a new client of mine who came to me for a portfolio review. She’d done enough reading online to know that excessive fees could significantly reduce her returns and her ability to retire. READ MORE

Brokerage accounts – a necessary evil for the accidental investor?

Who is the accidental investor?  It’s the tech genius who moves from company to company, participating in 401(k)’s, which he forgets once he moves on to the next opportunity.  Or perhaps it’s the self-employed entrepreneur whose CPA told her to set up a retirement account at year end.  Or maybe it’s the working Mom who recently inherited a small next egg she would like to use to fund her kid’s education.    READ MORE

In search of a pot of gold or maybe just a savings account that pays interest

When I think of cash for emergency funds, I think of “parking” the funds somewhere accessible and out of mind.  I want those funds to be a line item on the investment statement that reminds my clients — on those occasions when  they review their investment statements — that if they lose their job tomorrow, or become sick, they would be able to pay their bills in the short term.  READ MORE

Checking the health of your pension – mandatory or optional?

Checking the Health of Your Pension – Mandatory or Optional?  
I don’t mean to spoil your sleep, but while you slumber peacefully in the early dawn, the United States Senate is proposing a change that could affect the required contributions to your pension.  Should you be concerned?   Ask the American Airline employees who found their plans underfunded when their employer declared bankruptcy.   READ MORE

When small change is hardly chump change

Since budgeting counseling is an important part of my financial planning practice, I get a kick out of finding easy ways to save money.  So, when I read that there was an update on the Department of Labor’s progress toward their 401(k) fee disclosure laws, I was curious.  After all, with better disclosure  more transparency, and increased competition, it should be easier for every 401(k) participant to save on the fees that they pay for the administration and management of their accounts.
So far, Wall Street has claimed that disclosure is “too complicated,” READ MORE

Coming to your mail box soon…cost basis decisions!

Some of you may have already received a notice from your mutual fund companies or your brokerage firms asking what method you would like used to determine the cost basis of your holdings.  Perhaps you’re not sure 

 what cost basis is, 
 what are the different methods to calculate cost basis,
 which method is best for you, or how you will make a choice,
 and why you’re even being asked? READ MORE

College planning – it’s more than choosing a college

Have you heard the news?  It just got tougher to pay for graduate school.Before the recent agreement on managing the debt ceiling, students were able to defer interest on “government subsidized” loans until six months after graduation.  And if they made the first 12 monthly payments on time, they received a “credit” equal to the 1% loan origination fee they paid.  Now, students begin owing interest on their debt while they are still in school, and they have lost the “credit” that reimbursed loan origination fees.  Paying more for graduate school makes paying less for college even more important.   READ MORE

What you see is not necessarily what you get

These days, many people are distrustful of Wall Street– and with good reason. But since most of us need stock market returns to reach our goals, we find it necessary to be equity investors.
The question is — where should you invest? If you answer that question by saying that you choose the best performing mutual funds, it may be that you think you have achieved a level playing field, because you can easily check past fund results. READ MORE

Choices for when your investment portfolio really needs to replace a paycheck

Many of my clients don’t know what they are REALLY spending. As result, they question how  they will be able to maintain their life style in retirement or, for that matter, they worry if they will be EVER be able to retire at all.

Once we do a retirement plan and answer those questions, the next step is to re-position their portfolios to generate the income they will need. Even people who are comfortable managing their own portfolios for growth, and they realize that managing a portfolio to generate income is more of a challenge. READ MORE